Adenomyosis is a condition that can be linked to painful, heavy periods, as well as other symptoms that can be hard to deal with. Understanding what’s behind the condition can help you feel more empowered to manage your symptoms and advocate for yourself when speaking to doctors.
- Adenomyosis is a condition where tissue from the lining of your womb grows into the muscles of your uterus
- The symptoms of Adenomyosis are sometimes similar to endometriosis
- You can have both adenomyosis and endometriosis at the same time
- Studies indicate that adenomyosis is more common in older women
What is Adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis is a condition that affects women and AFAB (assigned female at birth) people.
It is characterised by endometrial tissue (the inner lining of your uterus) growing abnormally into the myometrium (the smooth muscle of the uterine wall). This can cause the uterus to become enlarged - sometimes up to three times the size of a normal healthy uterus - and its walls to become thicker.
The condition can cause swelling and pain on a daily basis, however, it can also contribute to heavy, painful periods. This is because the tissue that grows into the uterine muscle also reacts to hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle - and it can become even more swollen and inflamed around your period.
Adenomyosis vs endometriosis
You might be thinking that adenomyosis sounds very similar to endometriosis - and you’re not wrong. They are both conditions that can trigger pelvic pain, painful periods and other similar symptoms. They are also both categorised by endometrial lining growing somewhere it’s not supposed to be.
However, with adenomyosis this growth happens specifically within the muscle of the uterus, whereas for endometriosis the growth can happen anywhere in the body - although it’s most commonly found in the pelvic area. You can read more about endometriosis here.
It’s not uncommon for people to have both adenomyosis and endometriosis - as well as other conditions such as fibroids.
Who can develop adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis can impact anyone with a uterus, but there seem to be some factors that could increase your risk of developing the condition.
- Adenomyosis is most common in women between the ages of 40 and 50
- It’s also more common in people who have had children - particularly more than two
- You may be more likely to develop adenomyosis if you have had a procedure on your womb
- Having endometriosis can increase your chances of developing adenomyosis (and vice versa)
It’s thought that these groups are more likely to develop adenomyosis because of prolonged or excessive exposure to estrogen - as it is an estrogen-dependent disease.
Symptoms of Adenomyosis
An enlarged uterus is the most common characteristic of Adenomyosis, and as you can imagine, that can be a pretty uncomfortable thing to live with. An enlarged uterus comes with a variety of symptoms including:
- Pelvic Pain
- Painful periods
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain when going to the toilet
- Aches and pains in the lower stomach, legs back
There are also secondary symptoms connected to adenomyosis such as:
- Issues with digestion - including constipation and diarrhoea
- Chronic fatigue
- Blood in urine or faeces
- Fertility issues
However, it’s important to remember that sometimes you can be living with adenomyosis for a long time and have no symptoms at all.
Getting diagnosed with Adenomyosis
Because the symptoms of adenomyosis are very similar to conditions like endometriosis, it can sometimes be hard to diagnose initially. If you are experiencing painful, heavy periods or any of the symptoms above, never put off speaking to your doctor. Many people believe that painful periods are something they just have to accept - but that is definitely not the case.
If you are concerned that you may have adenomyosis, raise this with your doctor and they will be able to investigate the condition in a few different ways.
- A Pelvic Exam: This type of exam may highlight if your uterus is larger or painful to touch.
- Ultrasound: A transvaginal ultrasound may show some abnormal thickening of your uterine wall.
- MRI: An MRI can also reveal any thickening or enlargement of the uterus
Is there a cure for adenomyosis?
Sadly there is currently no real cure for adenomyosis. Like many conditions linked to the reproductive system, it is under researched and misunderstood and we need to change that! The one option is to have a total hysterectomy, which depending on your age and circumstances, might not be something that is right for you.
Some people will find that symptoms of adenomyosis go away once they reach menopause - as the ovaries stop producing estrogen. However, it’s important to remember that you will likely still have an enlarged uterus - so you may still experience some pain and discomfort.
If you’re struggling with symptoms of adenomyosis, there are some lifestyle factors worth looking into. Your diet and how you look after yourself (both mentally and physically) can make a big difference in your symptoms.
Like endometriosis, adenomyosis is highly linked to inflammation. Try to include lots of anti-inflammatory foods in your diet - from dark leafy greens to oily fish. It’s also a good idea to avoid things that trigger inflammation in the body like alcohol and caffeine.
Stress and Mental Health
Stress is never good for our health, and chronic stress can increase inflammation in the body. Of course, we’re not suggesting that a yoga class is going to cure adenomyosis, but taking time to relax might help to reduce the risk of intense flare-ups - as well as supporting your mental health.
Natural Pain Relief
If you are dealing with intense pain regularly, you may find yourself taking a lot of pain medication. We know many people want a more natural way to manage their symptoms and the Myoovi kit is a great alternative to drugs or hormonal birth control. Proven to reduce period pain for many people living with endometriosis and adenomyosis, the machine sends electrical pulses which disrupt pain signals to the brain - stopping pain instantly!